MINI Cooper S E Electric

It’s been years since the MINI E plied the roads as part of a lease-only, limited test fleet. The follow-up is the all-electric MINI Cooper S E. It’s packed with technology and promises a fun driving experience. Sign us up!

MINI’s 2020 Cooper SE, a production version of the MINI E electric vehicle based on the MINI Cooper 2-door hardtop, will finally be heading to U.S. roads after a long wait by MINI fans. Back in 2009, a limited fleet of MINI Es was leased to 9500 customers in the Los Angeles and New York/New Jersey areas, with similar programs in Europe and Japan.

The Mini E’s battery pack replaced the rear seat, making it a two-seater. The MINI Cooper S E’s T-shape battery pack is located under the rear seat and running between the front seats. Thus, the Cooper S E is a four-seater without compromising passenger or luggage space. While the MINI E had a range of about 100 miles on its 35 kWh lithium-ion battery, the Cooper S E features a range of 146 to 167 miles on its 32.6 kWh battery, although that range is calculated under the optimistic European driving cycle. It’s expected that estimated range on the U.S. EPA testing cycle will be closer to 115 miles.

The Cooper SE is powered by a 181 horsepower synchronous electric motor with 199 lb-ft torque driving the front wheels. Since maximum torque is available from standstill, the Cooper SE accelerates from zero to 62 mph in 7.3 seconds. To prevent slip due to this instant torque, the electric’s traction control system was integrated into the MINI’s primary electronic control unit (ECU) to enable computer control to shorten the time between wheel slippage and the system’s response.

Four driving modes are offered. The default MID setting brings comfort-oriented steering characteristics, while a GREEN mode results in greater efficiency to increase rang. GREEN+ disables features like heating, air conditioning, and seat heating to further increase range. SPORT mode, as you would expect, provides more sporty driving.

A driver can control the car’s degree of regenerative braking to increase or decrease deceleration intensity. A stronger regen setting can be selected if one-pedal driving is preferred. With aggressive regen, a Cooper SE begins deceleration as soon as a driver’s foot is lifted from the accelerator, enabling the car to be slowed at low speeds without using the hydraulic brakes. The softer regen setting is available for those who prefer a more conventional driving and braking feel.

Heating is provided by an energy-efficient heat pump system that collects waste heat from the motor, drive controller, high-voltage battery, and outside temperatures. The result is that it uses 75 percent less energy than a conventional electric heating system, thus saving all-important battery power. On hot or cold days, cabin temperature can be pre-conditioned by activating heating or cooling using the MINI Connected Remote App on a smartphone. The app also displays battery state-of-charge, available range, and energy consumption statistics. A map shows nearby public charging stations.

Standard equipment includes either Connected Navigation or Connected Navigation Plus, depending on the trim level.  Connected Navigation includes a 6.5-inch central touchscreen. This allows Real Time Traffic Information to be used as well as the internet platform MINI Online and Apple CarPlay. Connected Navigation Plus includes an 8.8-inch color screen and adds Telephony with Wireless Charging.

A 5.5-inch digital instrument cluster screen behind the steering wheel displays speed, remaining range, battery charge level, and power demand, plus navigation directions, selected MINI Driving Mode, status of the driver assistance systems and traffic sign detection.

The Cooper S E is compatible with Level 1 and Level 2 charging. When 50 kW DC charging is available the Cooper S E can be charged to 80 percent in only 35 minutes. The charge port is above the right-hand rear wheel, like where you refuel a conventional MINI.

Deliveries of the MINI Cooper S E will begin worldwide following the start of production this November at the MINI manufacturing facility in Oxford, England. While a price in the U.S. has not been announced, the starting cost in Germany is EUR €32,500 (incl. 19% VAT), which roughly translates to just under $36,000. That said, this ballpark number does not take into account pricing strategies for different world markets. We’ll just have to see how this unfolds as the Cooper S E gets closer to market here in the States.